Though construction is yet to begin even seven years after Mumbai special economic zone (MSEZ) near Raigad was given in-principle nod, and despite opposition from locals refusing to wane, Mukesh Ambani-led Reliance Industries Ltd, the promoter of the 5,000-hectare project, is not ready to give up just yet.
The developer has sought an extension up to August 2014 for the multi-product SEZ, once touted as one of the largest industrial enclaves in the country. The request was made earlier this month to the SEZ Board of Approval (BoA), set up under the Union ministry of commerce and industry.
The BoA, however, has kept its decision in abeyance and will seek opinion from the state government before taking a call.
The BoA in its meeting on June 12 pointed out that the developer was granted approval in 2006, and has got six extensions so far to get the project off the ground.
The development commissioner of Navi Mumbai SEZ, also promoted by Ambani in partnership with state-run Cidco, said the developer had already spent Rs1,800 crore on land acquisition and the remaining land, needed for achieving contiguity, would be bought after the enactment of the new land acquisition bill.
It was also argued that the developer was not sitting on government land but on private property, and hence should be allowed an extension.
There was speculation that the developer would opt out after the state unveils its new industrial policy this year.
The policy envisages conversion of SEZ into integrated industrial areas with 40%development reserved for real estate.
A government source told HT, "Until the developer gets contiguous land parcel, no progress can be made; as a result, the developer needs more time.
Moreover, even the farmers who have got compensation but whose land awards have not been finalised are now challenging the company's land ownership."
There was no response from MSEZ despite calls and an email sent by HT to its chairman Anand Jain.
MSEZ website says that the company has acquired 1,845 hectares of land so far.